Doug Kmiec has endorsed Senator Barack Obama to become our 44th President. In a recent Slate Magazine, he writes that Barack Obama is a natural for the Catholic vote:
My dear late mother would say: "Steer clear of mixing religion and politics in public discussions." Sorry, Mom, but the mix is unavoidable. Religion shapes us, and politics is our addictive national reality show. In any event, my faith, Catholicism, teaches that pluralism is enhanced, not threatened, when religions talk to one another.Kmiec served on Mitt Romney's campaign Committee because Romney was an underdog because of his religious beliefs. Overcoming the prejudice against Romney because of the candidate's Morman beliefs was something that appealed to this Catholic who remmebered JFK had the same sort of religious hurdle. But with Romney out,
Apparently, we're pretty persuasive. Catholics have been on the side of the top vote-getter (who, as we know from playing hanging chad, is not always the winner) in the last nine presidential elections. . . . Unlike our Jewish brothers and sisters who trend Democratic, and our Protestant friends who regularly populate Republican ranks, we're the ultimate flip-floppers, picking Republicans five times and Democrats four since 1972.
whom might Catholics turn to? Since I served at one time as Reagan's constitutional lawyer, it would be natural for me to fall in line behind John McCain. Don't worry about his conservative lapses, says President Bush, the foremost expert on lapsed conservativism. There is no gainsaying that McCain is a military hero deserving of salute. But McCain seems fixated on just taking the next hill in Iraq. His Iraqi military objective is laudable, but it assumes good reasons to be there in the first place. It also ignores that Catholics are looking to bless the peacemakers.Kmiec considered Hillary Clinton:
Now, don't think me daft, but when Obama gave his victory remarks in Iowa calling upon America to "choose hope over fear and to choose unity over division," he was standing squarely in the shoes of the "Great Communicator." Notwithstanding all of Bill Clinton's self-possessed heckling to the contrary, Obama was right—Reagan was a "transformative" president. Reagan liked to tell us he was proudest of his ability to make America feel good about itself. He did. Catholic sensibility tells me Obama wants it to deserve that feeling.
However hard-working, intelligent, and policy savvy she may be (and she is), Clinton seldom inspires even the so-called "social justice" Catholics or reveals that rare gift of empathy that defined Reagan and that one glimpses in Obama. Say what you will about not preferring style over substance, modern leadership requires both, especially now when the international community—whose help we need to arrest terrorism—seldom gives us the benefit of the doubt.Of course, Kmiec considered other Republicans,
peering peer deeper into the Catholic mind. . . . Catholics do have to navigate some difficult ethical waters to contemplate voting blue. McCain and Huckabee—unlike either of the Democrats—join in the Catholic prayer for the unborn, but Republican promises have often left those prayers unanswered. While no papal instruction will ever condone the "right to choose," the church does ask for a consistent and realistic defense of life that actually takes steps to reduce the incidence of the practice, not just condemns it. Catholics will note that McCain and Huckabee's pro-life postures collapse when it comes to the death penalty. Even if the Supreme Court decides later this spring that lethal injection is not "cruel and unusual" under our Constitution, capital sentencing is often erratic and erroneous in light of the modern availability and reliability of DNA evidence. It is Catholic instruction that there are better ways to deter violent crime.So, for Kmiec, he is too audacious in 2008 to be a GOP voter.
Beyond life issues, an audaciously hope-filled Democrat like Obama is a Catholic natural. Anyone seeking "liberty and justice for all" really can't be satisfied with racially segregated public schools that don't teach. And there's something deeply hypocritical about being a nation of immigrants that won't welcome any more of them. . . .It doesn't matter to me how the tortured souls in the once Grand Ol' Party find themselves a way out from the dark side. I'm just glad they are coming, whether one by one or two by two. It's results I'm interested in. At this point, sheer numbers aren't that important: it's always better to have one Republican in hand than two in the Bush.
Sorry to tell you this, Sen. McCain, but a good number of the Catholics I know are not certain to light candles at the Republican political altar. Some of us who rode McCain's Straight Talk Express before the Republican commitment to a balanced budget put us on track toward a $400 billion deficit appreciate his confessed desire to redeem himself as a faithful conservative. But there are suspicions. After all, hanging out with Joe Lieberman and Russ Feingold comes well within the Latin canon:
Similes similibus gaudent.
Pares cum paribus facile congregantur
Birds of a feather flock together. . . . So, here's the thing: John McCain will have many Catholics in the pews a little while longer, but more than a few of us are thinking of giving him up for Lent. Reagan used to say that he didn't leave the Democratic Party, it left him. The launch of "Reaganites for Obama" might not be far behind. We might not be there yet, but we're getting close.